Volume 8 Number 48

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

DC kashrut and dealing with standards differing by locale
         [Ronald Greenberg]
Kashrut in Greater Washington Area
         [Charles Arian]
Learning without a bracha
         [Chaim Schild]
Public Accountability of Communal Organizations
         [Howie Pielet]
Women's Hair Covering
         [Shaul Wallach]
Womens Tephila Groups
         [Steve Ehrlich]


From: Ronald Greenberg <rig@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1993 16:27:50 -0400
Subject: DC kashrut and dealing with standards differing by locale

I've already gotten a few private responses about the DC kashrut issues
I raised.  There is a range of commentary from things like "I'm really
glad you brought these problems into the open" to "There are too many
specific issues for an international forum and you should call the Vaad
to get more balanced information".  Perhaps the fairest characterization
of the situation is that the Washington Vaad is simply very strict on a
variety of issues that require a judgment call.  It seems that they are
in the minority relative to many other Vaads, but one may argue that by
being very strict they produce an increased degree of insurance that
supervised places here will have no problems.  It seems to me that this
creates tension because many people don't want to be stricter than
everybody else, and I think there is a serious issue of balancing having
very high standards at the places that are supervised versus having
enough places to discourage borderline people from going to places with
no supervision.  But this is a judgment call, and I may have erred by
bringing such judgments to question publicly.

Perhaps a better question to explore in this forum is a general
discussion of how to deal with differences in standards from one locale
to another given the high level of travel we have these days.  But I'm
afraid this question may be hopelessly intractable.  It's sort of like
the question of which hashgacha do you trust in the supermarket, but I
think that has an easier resolution in that a pretty large portion of
the (American) Orthodox community seems to have settled on an acceptable
set and to be comfortable eating in other people's homes even though
they may differ on a few questions of which hashgachas are reliable and
which products require hashgacha.  Actually, I think that there is a
substantial amount of this sort of agreement regarding Vaads too, but
people who live in Washington, which has the strictest Vaad, may be
getting into a terrible bind right now.  It is possible that Katz's
Supermarket will never prove to be a real problem, since it doesn't have
the same stature as a place with approval by a Vaad, but there are all
sorts of other questions one can ask:

1.  Should Washingtonians eat at Star-K restaurants and events in
Baltimore?  I don't personally know of anybody who doesn't.

2.  Should Washingtonians buy items from the Star-K or the Vaad of
Raritan Valley, etc. and take them home?  Just a couple weeks ago, I
served Dunkin Donuts from NJ in my home, and the question never occurred
to me, and I think there is virtually nobody else in my community who
would ask about such donuts.  On the other hand, the Washington Vaad has
made an explicit effort to point out that the Star-K supervised Seven
Mile Market is not approved by them.

3.  If somebody comes to visit from Baltimore, NY, etc. and brings a
food gift, should it be served?

4.  If somebody moves from Baltimore to Washington, should they kasher
their dishes?

5.  A variation on 3 and 4: If somebody has close friends or relatives
who bring things from another community to be used possibly even in hot
contact with ones dishes, does that cause a problem?

I would guess that many people out there may be yelling CYLOR ("consult
your local Orthodox Rabbi" for those who are new to the list).  Perhaps
I will, but if anybody has any general perspectives to contribute, that
would be nice.  Perhaps my Rabbi or others in Washington will actually
read these postings at some point.  I hope I haven't already said so
much as to get them very mad at me, but I would think that some of these
questions I have raised could put even Rabbis here into something of a
quandary.  It would be nice if we could have some sort of widely
accepted standards to be applied in kashrut supervision across the
country for restaurants and stores rather than just for manufactured
products.  I guess what I'm suggesting here is that it's getting harder
and harder to separate people out into discrete communities, and it
would be nice to have some sort of national Vaad structure.  If anybody
can bring any sort of general wisdom from the halacha, that would be



From: Charles Arian <CARIAN@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 93 17:45:54 -0400
Subject: Kashrut in Greater Washington Area

I would like to followup on certain of the issues Ron Greenberg raised
concerning kashrut in the greater Washington area. I want to make it
perfectly clear that this is the view of one Conservative rabbi whose
standards and practices differ at times from normative Orthodox halakha;
also the statements made are my own and not those of any organization or

I would second Ron's dismay over the lack of supervised places in
Washington. As to some of his specific comments, he is right in that
many people with kippot eat at an unsupervised Chinese vegetarian place,
because I see them there all the time when I am eating there. I am
always a bit taken aback, because when I eat there (acceptable
Conservative practice) I do not wear a kippah but rather a hat or cap,
because of marit 'ayin.

There do seem to be reasonably high numbers of observant people shopping
at Katz's now that it has hashgacha. I did not eat there before, nor did
I allow food to be purchased from there for Hillel, but subsequent to
the new regime I checked it out, met with the mashgiach, etc.; other
Conservative rabbis did the same and also met with their rav makhshir.
Like many other Conservative rabbis in the area, I now allow purchases
from there and shop there myself.

As to problems with the Va'ad, a delegation from the Washington Board of
Rabbis (which the Orthodox rabbis in Washington have decided not to
join) met with one of the rabbis on the Va'ad. He told us that the
halakhic authorities on the Va'ad generally are not in favor of
restaurants, period, because they encourage socialization between the
sexes, and they feel no need for any more restaurants. The Va'ad also
has a policy of not automatically accepting *any* hashgacha. Just
because a product is (u) or (k) is not enough -- someone from the Va'ad
or delegated by the Va'ad has to personally check the supplier out.
Rabbi Senter from Kof-K told me that Washington's is the only Va'ad in
the United States which has this policy.

A number of years ago the Student Affairs staff at American University
approached the Va'ad about opening a kosher food service on campus. They
found it a frustrating experience, because when presented with a
proposal the Va'ad would say it was unacceptable but seems to have a
policy against explaining exactly why it was unacceptable and what
changes need to be made. The result -- no kosher dining hall at AU.

I am sure that the Va'ad has halakhic justification for its policies,
and certainly the sum total insures that the Washington Va'ad hashgacha
is second to none in reliability; but it also means a lot of people are
eating either outright treif or doubtful products.

Charles Arian


From: SCHILD%<GAIA@...> (Chaim Schild)
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 93 09:20:47 -0400
Subject: Re: Learning without a bracha

> I once heard an exogetical explanation of the aggadata that, "The Bais
> HaMikdosh was destroyed because people learned without a Bracha." 

This is discussed on daf 51 of the Tur Shulchan Aruch in depth in the



From: <pielet@...> (Howie Pielet)
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 93 14:56:54 CST
Subject: Public Accountability of Communal Organizations

Ronald Greenberg <rig@...> wrote:

>>>...Is the Vaad here anomalous?  Is there a proper and respectful way to
try to improve our kashrut options here?  ... If nothing else, the Vaad is
doing a terrible job on public relations.  ...<<<

The Chicago Rabbinical Council and the Chicago OU Rabbi have held public
question-and-answer sessions before Pesach.

Should we expect communal organizations like community kashrut
organizations to hold regular public forums?  If they tell us what they
are doing and why they are doing it, it will help us avoid rumors and

Howie Pielet   Internet: <pielet@...>  (East Chicago, Indiana, USA)


From: Shaul Wallach <f66204@...>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 93 10:44:42 -0400
Subject: Women's Hair Covering

      Rachamim Pauli writes in regard to saying blessings in the
presence of improperly dressed women:

>                               The Sefardic members of the Israel
>Aircraft Kollel cover their mouths when they make blessings in the lunch
>room so as their lips will not be blessing in front of non-tzinut women.

     Shouldn't they be covering their eyes instead of their mouths?  See
the Shulhan `Arukh, Orah Hayyim 75:6, where one can also turn the other
way, or close his eyes, in order to say the blessing.

     By the way, according to a literal reading of the Rambam (Hilkot
Qeri'at Shema` 3:16), the whole body of a woman falls into this
category, not just what is usually covered up.


Shaul Wallach


From: ihlpt!stevee (Steve Ehrlich)
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 93 00:40:15 EDT
Subject: Womens Tephila Groups

There is a certain reality here that I'm surprised no one has mentioned.
It is that in fact relatively little tephila altogether takes place
among many women who otherwise classify themselves as Orthodox.  I think
if the sociologists actually did surveys and compiled some data, the
percentage of Orthodox women who daven twice a day would be astonishing
low, and the percentage who daven even once a day not a lot higher. This
is certainly true once children are in the picture, but even with the
younger set there is serious neglect. Blu Greenberg in her book "On
Women and Judaism" tells a story about picking her junior high boy and
girl up from ice skating around sunset in the winter. As she enters the
rink, she sees her boy look at the setting sun, look at his watch, and
then start to daven mincha off to the side. The girl sees him, shrugs,
and keeps on skating. I suspect this sort of thing happens *a lot*.

Somehow we have a situation in which many young girls think it doesn't
matter much if they daven or not. Davening is not "for them". I see the
women's Tephila groups as growing out of that feeling. I use the word
"feeling" unapolgetically. The reality is that masses of Jewish females
do not sense an imperative to daven on a regular basis. I am aware of
the Halachic discussions about exactly what the extent of a woman's
obligation to daven may be. But to my mind, that is beside the point.
IMHO, if I raise my daughter to think it doesn't matter if she davens
mincha or not, I have not done my job.

I'm also having a very hard time with the claim that an innovation is,
by definition, a bad thing.  Lets not forget that the Bais Yakov
movement itself was considered an innovation back in 1928 when it became
clear that something radical *had* to be done to keep Jewish girls in
the fold.-- In spite of the multitude of sepharim/authorities that
expressly prohibit teaching women Torah. But, supposing that an
innovation *is* a no-no, what *are* alternatives to increase the tephila
rate among women? You can disparage the tephila group if you like -- and
I am not denying that there are real Halachic issues with certain
implementations -- but you have to recognize that there is a very real
problem that still must be addressed. I havent heard any alternatives

Steve Ehrlich


End of Volume 8 Issue 48